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We tested the effect of cuticular waxes on epibiont cover by cutting each of 16 pycnogonids longitudinally down the center of its trunk and separating the halves into two groups: an experimental group, in which waxes were removed, and a control group, in which the waxes were left intact.
Change in percent epibiont cover did not vary significantly with experimental (restricted ovigers) and control (unrestricted ovigers) pycnogonids (Z = 37, d.f.
In bright light, epibionts on pycnogonids produced high levels of oxygen locally.
We collected some pycnogonids at depths of 20-30 m and on the undersides of submerged concrete blocks--sites that likely received very little light and would support very low levels of photosynthesis.
Several species of pycnogonids have been reported to use their ovigers to groom their cuticles (King, 1973; Arnaud and Bamber, 1987; Davenport et al., 1987; Bamber, 2007).
There was some evidence that waxes (or chemicals present in those waxes; see Fahrenbach, 1994, and Melzer et al., 1996) on pycnogonids prevent epibiont attachment (Fig.
Using two species of temperate pycnogonids, we have shown that macroepibionts do not restrict local oxygen availability, and, in some cases, they may raise local oxygen levels.
Future studies should also determine whether pycnogonids structure their cuticles to recruit epibionts--for camouflage or to control infections (Armstrong et al., 2000; Dougherty and Russell, 2005).
We measured oxygen levels in the bulk seawater 1 cm from the pycnogonid, and at the surface of the cuticle of individuals with or without heavy epibiont coverage (n = 8 per group).
However, one pycnogonid from the experimental group lost a single oviger.
Individual patches of epibionts were outlined, summed, and divided by the total area of the pycnogonid (Chung et al., 2007).